Ah, to be young again
Remember when you were 7 years old and people asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? As if it was this very linear, structured route?
Like, if you answered “I want to be a firefighter!” you would grow up, go to firefighter school (LOL, is that what it’s called?), become a firefighter, then retire and spend the rest of your days sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch? Ahh yes, the American dream.
Well, as we all inevitably find, life isn’t very “linear.” First, you go to college with 7,000 different degrees in mind and a lust for the life that you have been dreaming about. “I’m going to change the world! I’m going to make a million dollars!” After you graduate, you wait for the career you chose when you were 7 to magically appear at your door step and say “We’ve been waiting for you, Alyson! Hop aboard the career train!”
The Millennial Dream
Us millennials have this urgency to pick ONE career that we will love and be fulfilled by, and will make us six figs’ by the time were 28. Then, we will go home to our amazing loft apartment downtown to wind down with an expensive glass of wine and eat gourmet meals in our chicly decorated dining room.
(Reality:We leave our entry level job to go home to our apartment with two other roommates to drink TJ’s $3 wine ((Remember the good ole days when it was “two buck chuck”?)) and drunk-buy face cream on Amazon).
I think many of us have an all-consuming fear that we won’t ever find our “dream job,” and we convince ourselves to settle wherever we’re at. Like that life just isn’t for us. Sure, maybe other people can find their dream job, but it’s not going to happen for everyone, right?
But guess what? We don’t need to do that.
There is, however, ONE scenario where you are guaranteed to not reach your dream job. I literally guarantee it. QUOTE ME ON IT.
What’s the only way you can never reach your career goals, you ask?
Doing nothing. Getting comfortable. Playing it safe.
That’s it! And here’s why:
Life is a constellation of our small, seemingly innocuous decisions. Each choice you make: meeting someone and getting their number at a work luncheon, applying to a job you don’t think you’re going to get, or even browsing the internet for other opportunities, these are the small decisions that will add up to big life changes.
If your current 9-5 feels, “Okay. It’s fine. I’m pretty happy,” and you NEVER take small risks or put yourself out there, you will indeed stay in that comfortable job for the rest of your life. I guarantee it. (Anyone else read that in the Men’s Wearhouse guy voice?)
Before you get depressed, here’s the great part: wherever you are right now, that is where you are supposed to be. There is no such thing as “wasting time in life.”
The crappy part-time waitressing job was necessary. Quitting the entry level job because your boss was an asshole was necessary. Being comfortable in a job for a few years and then waking up one day thinking “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE” is necessary. Embedded within the crappy parts, the messy parts, and the boring parts, are lessons. You need these lessons to get to your ultimate destination.
The path you took to get where you are was all NECESSARY. Take me, for example. If I hadn’t gotten my degree in Psychology, then my Master’s in Social Work, I wouldn’t be writing this very blog. I needed that education in mental health in order to have the backbone for this blog. It was all necessary. (Expensive, but necessary.)
Just because you got your degree in Finance, doesn’t mean you need to work in finance your whole life. Just because you have experience in one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, this requires risk, which requires vulnerability. Being vulnerable is pretty scary. Imagine posting your writing on the internet for everyone you know to read and see and judge from behind their smart phones?! (Who has two thumbs and started a blog? THIS GIRL.)
This year, I decided to quit being a therapist and pursue writing and my blog. It was a pay-cut. Hell, it was an ego-cut. Some people were really supportive! Some people were really confused. Why would you give up such a cool job? Don’t you love helping people? Aren’t you worried that not getting your license is a bad idea?
The answer to all of these questions is of course a resounding YES. YES, I AM TERRIFIED.
But, I also knew that being a therapist wasn’t fulfilling, I’m not even really sure why. Maybe it was because I couldn’t be creative, maybe it was because I was working in community mental health and felt overworked. Maybe it was a combination of a lot of things. What I do know is, writing my blog lit me up inside. I was excited. I was passionate. I knew I needed to pursue it, and had this small voice in the back of my mind telling me that if I followed this passion, it would lead me somewhere. Where? Who knows. But somewhere.
Now, its only been five months since I’ve made this decision, so I’m not quite the success story you all would love to hear about. BUT, it feels right. I’m gaining traction. People are reaching out and telling me how much they love my writing and how it’s helping them through something. And right now, that’s all I need to keep going.
Was there a shorter route to me pursuing this path? Probably. But here I am, and I’m equipped with life lessons and an education in mental health and the passion to spread what I’ve learned to as many people as I can, all while being able to be my complete, sassy self. It feels really, really good.
If you don’t feel fulfilled with what you’re doing right now, there is a reason for that.
It’s because you’re not fulfilled with what you’re doing right now. The only way you can change that is to do something, anything, and it doesn’t need to be drastic! You don’t need to quit your job and up-end your life. You can start with small, manageable decisions. You can trust the process. You can reach out and ask for help. You can be vulnerable and take risks.
The only thing you can’t do, is nothing.